Mission To Mars
Background: NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s (Links to an external site.).You and your team have been selected to be the first crew to land on Mars in 2030. The main goal is not only to arrive on Mars and land safely but to survive there for the longest possible time since this is a one-way ticket. However, first, you need to get there as a team with all your mental capacities intact.
The main elements you need to consider are stress management, communication among members and copying with physical conditions. All these are factors that could affect the very survival of your team.
Previously, a different enterprise identified three phases for astronauts training which would include technical, personal, and group training. We skip Phase 1 since it is related to the technical capacities that the astronauts need to develop and concentrate on Phase 2 and 3, more relevant for a Psychologist.
“Phase 2: Personal training consists of ensuring that the astronauts are able to cope with the difficult living environment on Mars. Since these individuals will be unable to speak to friends and family on Earth face-to-face, a certain amount of coping skills are essential.”
“Phase 3: Group training will mainly take place through simulation missions. During these simulations, the astronauts take part in a fully immersive exercise that prepares them for the real mission to Mars. The simulated environment will invoke as many of the Mars conditions as possible. Immediately after selection, the groups will participate in these simulations for a few months per year.”
Objective: The main objective is to bring team collaboration to bear in a real-world problem, using what you know by now about human brain physiology. The main question to answer is “How can cognitive and brain mechanisms influence the survival chances of a team in a new, adverse environment?”. In this case, you are in charge of producing a set of recommendations, based on cognitive theories, that will impact copying skills and group cohesion.
Goal: Based on what you know so far about how the human mind works, design activities that would be useful to maintain group cohesion, and develop coping mechanisms.
design two activities for Phase 2 with the goal of developing coping skills (Links to an external site.) for your team. This includes mental capacities to deal with isolation and develop resourcefulness. How can the mind adapt to isolation and difficult living environments?
design two simulation activities for Phase 3 that would be useful to maintain group cohesiveness (Links to an external site.). How can the mind adapt to work with others in a new and difficult environment?
You have absolute freedom to design your activities but they have to utilize some of the mechanisms and theories discussed in this class. This means that every activity or simulation your team proposes has to be steeped in cognitive theories. Consider, however, the current global situation and how could something like this affect a future Mars mission.
You can present your designs in any kind of media: a written report listing recommendations, a PowerPoint, or another kind of document containing a summary of proposed recommendations or, even a video of the proposed activities. However, they all have to help your team survive on Mars for the longest possible time. You are the experts.
Here is a suggestion of a timeline for your Team.Preview the document
Here is a link to NASA’s Human Factors research (Links to an external site.) which may come in handy.